We have a new son! He is already three weeks old on the day
I write this. I usually share my birth story within a week or two, but this one
was more difficult to write because it took such a long time to process it … in
fact, in many ways, I am still processing it.
How do I tell this story when there are so many aspects (so
many past moments) that weave into it? So, let me just start and see where the
story leads me… As many of you know, this is my sixth child birth. My husband
and I were very proud parents of five sons and we had waited to find out if
this child was a boy or a girl. (As a side note, although there was a sense of
adventure and fun in not finding out, both my husband and I now agree it is
much better to find out! At least, it is for us. But that’s another story …)
|April 2, 2015 - 7lb14oz, 20in|
During this pregnancy, I had a great deal of anxiety about
the impending childbirth. It wasn’t rational; it just came upon me like little
panic attacks that escalated. Of my 5 births before, only one was an
excruciating experience. The first was difficult, but seeing my first baby the
pain magically erased. The second was a piece of cake. The fourth was labor but
not too difficult and the fifth was everything I imagined natural labor could
be. It was intense, but beautiful and euphoric.
It was the birth of our third son that taunted me. My doctor
feared preeclampsia, so had me induced at 37 weeks, 6 days. Usually breaking of
the water works to set my body in motion, but not that time. They began
pitocin. It was bearable at first, but just awful in the end. I did it,
non-medicated, but compared to the other four labors (where pitocin wasn’t
needed), it was torturous. (The contractions are harsher, without a natural rise
and fall. My body felt it for weeks.) And it was the memory of this experience
that would awaken me in the night during this last pregnancy – with my heart
racing and head sweating.
A friend counseled me, during a week of many anxiety
battles; she said I should ask God for a redemptive childbirth. That the
experience of the birth itself would be a witness of God’s love. You would pray
that you may join your suffering to the sufferings of Christ and that the pain
be experienced would be a witness of love. This friend sang through her labor
and said how much it helped, because she too was suffering from too much
knowledge of labor. (If we could only
erase certain moments from our mind, to approach it anew!)
So, I began to pray for God to take my memories and keep me
at peace. As my rheumatoid arthritis began to show its ugly head and bite into
my body in the last weeks of pregnancy, I was tempted to ask for early
induction – just to bring an end to the pain! In the end, I waited. I chose to
accept the pain (pain that even compromised my ability to walk) and wait on my
body to be ready. “Go the full 40!” was ringing in my mind.
At 40 weeks and 5 days, and through consultation with my
doctor and husband (and the RA becoming ever more debilitating), we all decided
it would be best to go in to be induced. It was Holy Thursday. Usually, it only
takes the breaking of the water or prepping the cervix to get my body to take
over; that is what we assumed would happen. I was ready, armed with a “power
and strength” playlist and an intercessory prayer list. We got settled into the
room and that’s when the adventure really started.
As my doctor was attempting to break my water, there was
some confusion as to whether or not it had broken. What usually is a quick,
less than a minute procedure, was lasting quite some time. (She was getting a
little frantic herself and kept apologizing for torturing me.) And for those of
you mamas who know what it feels like, know how the sudden flashes of pressure
and pain kept causing me to get light headed and nauseous. Finally she just
couldn’t get it and gave up and yet, as I sat up, the water gushed – she had
succeeded after all.
As I tried to recover from that craziness, I attempted to
start walking – to get baby moving into position and get contractions going.
Yet, after every few steps, I would get dizzy again and start seeing spots. This
went on for a couple hours and then they needed me back on the bed to give a
dose of antibiotics and fluids (to try to help with the light-headedness).
After another hour or so, my doctor came back in and my cervix had not
progressed. Then came the terrible words, slamming down on my ears and heart,
“We’ll have to start pitocin. It’s now inevitable.”
I was crushed. And my heart began to race and I could feel
my anxiety rising. I asked everyone to leave, so my husband and I could speak
privately. We spoke about what it meant to take the pitocin and the awful
experience I had previously and then, the possibility of getting an epidural
along with it. He supported me in whatever I chose to do. He reassured me that
I didn’t need to prove anything to anyone, but that I needed choose what would
be best for me and baby.
When the doctor returned, I explained that if we had to use
pitocin, then I would like the epidural as well. She said that she was about to
suggest it and thought that was the most excellent decision. She hates having
to use pitocin since it makes labor so awful; getting the epidural with it was,
in her mind, the best decision I could make … then why did I feel like I had just given up?
After both those were in and going, I was a little lost. I
kept asking the nurse, “what should I be doing?” She would laugh and say,
“relax or nap!” I’d just shake my head; it was so surreal. After five
unmedicated labors, this was just so strange. Emotions were raging in my head –
I have always been engaged in my labors (with every fiber of my being), but
here it was like I was watching from a distance – disconnected – lost. I felt
numb and weirdly sad. When it was time to push, I couldn’t feel a thing. I knew
what to do only because of experience; a few pushes and baby was born!
It was a boy! My husband said “It’s our Anthony!” But of
course I had to check for myself … thinking “really? 6 boys? what are the
odds!” He was beautiful. But I had to shake my head; without enduring labor, I
felt like I had cheated at the test and still got an A.
The mixed emotions continued after Anthony and I came home. I
did feel a little like a failure for asking for the epidural. I thought I would
have a redemptive childbirth and I felt like I just skipped over it all
together. Easter Sunday, our first full day at home, so Anthony and I stayed
home while my amazing husband took the other five to Mass.
Alone in the house, I nursed Anthony as the sunlight
streamed across the floor. I prayed. Then it hit me. A revelation like a lightning
bolt to my soul – this was redemptive childbirth! I wanted to participate, to
show I could do it, to flash my supermom cape, but that’s not what redemption
is about! Redemption is not our doing at all! Redemption is God’s work, which
we can accept or not. It’s about our humility. I walked away from this
childbirth humbled; it wasn’t what I expected and I didn’t even have the “I am
woman, hear me roar” flag to wave from making it through natural labor. I
didn’t know what others might think since I couldn’t do it this time. It was
indeed humbling. And, yet, at that moment in prayer, I realized the profound
lesson of love and gift that humility was! Christ gave everything for us and
his love is not conditional! What we need to let go of is our pride. I asked
God for a redemptive childbirth and He granted me an experience where I had to
lay everything down – everything.
Thank you, Lord, for my weakness! Thank you for the gift and
blessing of another amazing son – to be the mother of six boys is a unique
blessing itself. Lord, make me worthy of such a task!
“But he said to me, “My grace is
sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will
boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest
on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
|oldest & youngest - #heartmelt|